Dan Rather, the former longtime CBS anchor, will be played by veteran actor and Sundance founder Robert Redford (The Way We Were) in the upcoming film biopic, Truth. The film centers around the controversial 60 Minutes II investigation into whether or not President George W. Bush received preferential treatment to avoid Vietnam service in 1968. The fallout from the incident, which was dubbed “Rathergate”, ultimately lead to the dismissal of four CBS employees, as well as Rather’s resignation in disgrace a year later.
The CBS producer who worked on the controversial story and is a central figure in the proposed film, Mary Mapes, was among those forced to resign over the story. Her 2005 book, Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power, is the basis for the movie, which will be directed by screenwriter James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man). Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) is among those in talks to play Mapes. The movie is currently seeking funding and distribution.
CBS aired the controversial segment shortly before Bush’s re-election bid and threatened to derail his potential second term by claiming that he never fulfilled his service requirements to the Texas Air National Guard. When some of the incriminating documents proved to be fabricated, CBS ultimately apologized and retracted the story. In the wake of “Rathergate,” four CBS employees, including the segment producer Mapes, were forced to resign. Rather’s reputation was severely damaged and he resigned in disgrace a year later.
The film biopic Truth, which will feature Robert Redford in the role of Dan Rather, will examine the circumstances surrounding the series of memos critical of President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service record that had been discovered in the files of the president’s former superior. The authenticity of those documents was subsequently called into question, which lead to claims that the memos involved in the investigation were forgeries.
Rather and CBS initially defended the story, which was released during the height of Bush’s re-election campaign, but wound up retracting it 12 days later. In Rather’s public retraction, he stated: “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question,” he said. Subsequently, Rather left CBS News in 2006. In 2007, he filed a defamation suit against CBS, Viacom, and its top management for making him a “scapegoat” in the story. His suit was ultimately dismissed in 2009 by a New York state appeals court.
James Vanderbilt, who wrote both Amazing Spider-Man scripts as well as the script for White House Down, will make his directorial debut with Truth and produce the film through Mythology Entertainment, along with his business partners Brad Fischer, William Sherak, and Mikkel Bondesen. The same producing team is also developing The Shining prequel The Overlook Hotel, which was written by Glen Mazzara of The Walking Dead fame.
Oscar-winning director and actor Robert Redford (A River Runs Through It) will play veteran newsman and former CBS anchor Dan Rather in the upcoming film biopic, Truth. The film centers around the controversial 60 Minutes II investigation into whether or not President George W. Bush received preferential treatment while in the Texas Air National Guard to avoid Vietnam service in 1968. The scandal was later dubbed “Rathergate” and ultimately lead to the dismissal of four CBS employees, as well as Rather’s resignation in disgrace a year later. The film project is already attracting considerable star power as two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett has also been tapped to play fired story producer Mary Mapes, whose 2005 book will serve as the basis for the film. Truth seekers everywhere will likely line up to investigate the case.
By Leigh Haugh